Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Perfect Christmas Gift

Mrs. June Fuentes authored the most wonderful post:
*The Perfect Christmas Gift*.

Read it and have a blessed Christmas focusing on Christ... His Birth, His Life and His Gift to all who believe in Him for Salvation! May He be Glorified!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Homemade Christmas

My dearest friend, Heather, gave me some of the cutest ideas for "Homemade Christmas" gifts that the girls can make. I thought I'd share them:

Painted Napkin Rings

Dough recipe:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp oil
1 cup water
food coloring (optional)


Mix in a saucepan and cook over LOW heat until it forms a dough-like consistency and is not sticky. Store in airtight container. To harden, form into shape and leave out for 24 hours, or bake at 200 degrees until hard. Paint with acrylic paint and seal with spray polyurethane.

Hot Cocoa Mix


1 25.6 oz instant non-fat dry milk
16oz jar of powdered non-dairy creamer
2 cups of powdered sugar
16oz Nestle quick


Mix together in a big bowl. Makes 17 cups of hot cocoa. (3 tbs per 8oz mug).

*I thought this would be cute in little Christmas tins as gifts. You could even
buy a cute Christmas mug and put some in a Ziploc inside. Wrap the Ziploc in tissue paper with ribbon. Be sure to include directions.

Bubble Bath

5 lbs of Epsom salts
1 small box of ivory snow
scented oil (you can get it a Wal-mart)

Mix salt and snow. Add scent as desired. Store in airtight container

*And I found THIS precious hand print calendar you could make for grandparents. (You know how they just love their grandchildren's hand prints)

Have a blessed time with your children making homemade Christmas gifts!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Santa Religion

1. Something one believes in and follows devotedly

Santa Claus is a religion… yep, I’m going there. This is such a taboo subject. Here's the irony: we preach that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life… but we get all up in arms when people try to take away our Santa Clause… who is NOT truth. Why is that?...

When Caroline was little, Erich asked me why I wanted to teach Caroline that Santa is “real”. I said “Because it’s just fun.” He explained to me that using logic like, “it's just fun” or “that’s what everyone does” is simply NOT biblical. Then, he threw the clincher in:
“Have you ever prayed about it or searched scripture on the subject?”

Ooohhh…that did it for me. Surprise, surprise… there is NO scripture ANYWHERE that promotes lying to our children!!! Especially not relating to a religious holiday. The Jews had specific instructions how to worship God through their offerings, feasts, rituals, etc…. and NONE of them included adding a mythical creature, who steals God’s glory, wrapped in a package of a lie to children.

I even tried to convince myself that I wasn’t lying to my kids… gasp! I’m just pretending, right? Wrong! Not only am I lying but I have to tell lie upon lie… sometimes very complex ones, to try to get the innocent children to buy into it all. But, I didn’t want to believe I was telling lies to them…it’s amazing what you will do to convince yourself about something that you don't want to give up.

Why was I holding on to this Santa Clause myth?... It was against scripture, against Truth, promotes selfishness…. Yuck! The truth of the matter was: I was holding on to it for my pleasure. Yep, that’s right, MY PLEASURE! It must be more fun for me and the kids to wake up Christmas morning to see the many presents that Santa gave them. I mean, without Santa… Christmas would just be… well, um… hmmmm

Christmas would be about Christ!

Funny… it’s not called Santamas… it’s called Christmas. Isn’t it strange that any person, regardless of their Christian beliefs, can participate in a religious holiday that’s supposed to be about Christ’s birth, all because they can do Santa?!

Do you hear any non-Muslim people celebrating Ramadan?... non-Jewish people celebrating Hanukkah?... NO… because those are sacred holidays only participated by followers of that religion.

But, add Santa in the mix… and ANYBODY can celebrate Christmas… and they’ll tell you it’s even better with Santa.

What?... something BETTER than Christ’s birth alone?...

Ohhhh, I get it… is that what God had in mind when he commanded us not to have any other gods before Him and to not fashion any graven images?
(Exodus 20:3-4)

Wait… if I’m not willing to give the Santa Claus lie up… then that makes Santa Clause… an IDOL. Yep, it’s that simple! If I’m confronted with truth that I’m lying to my kids, that I’m trying to “share” God’s glory with a false image during Christmas, and that it’s completely unbiblical, then I MUST give it up. Otherwise, it’s an idol!

SHOCK OF ALL SHOCKERS: Let’s look at what the Santa religion teaches vs. what God is:

~Santa is always watching you.
~Only God is Omnisciencent (Psalm 147:4-5).

~Santa gives gifts when you are good and coal when you are naughty.
~God freely gives grace to us because our good-works won't save us (Eph. 2:8-9) and He gives us forgiveness when we’ve sinned (Psalm 103:8-12)

~Santa promotes indulgence and selfishness.
~Christ promotes sacrifice and selflessness (Luke 14:27).

Wow… Santa is the OPPOSITE of Christ… AND he’s a lie!

Why did I ever think teaching my children Santa was real was a good thing?... Why did I ever think adding his myth into Christ’s REAL birth would be a good thing? If I try to convince my children that Santa is real, then I am truly and simply teaching my children to believe in a false religion that completely contradicts God’s character and His Will and His Word. WOW!

I was disillusioned by the World in thinking that Santa was “OK”. But we are to be set apart from the World (Romans 12:1-2). We are not to look to them and how they celebrate Christmas, or Santamas, and mimic what they do.

Col. 2:8 says: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

So, after much prayer and bible study… I was strongly convicted that low and behold, I shouldn’t be lying to my children about Santa. And, in case I wasn’t fully convinced, God orchestrated something beautiful that year:

Caroline came up to me, looked me dead square in the eyes, and asked with a heart of searching and sincerity: Mommy, tell me the truth… Is Santa really real?”

Oh, yea… that was it. There is no way I could look back into her sweet eyes and lie. There is no way when she asked for truth, that I should give her something false.

Why should I tell her to believe in Santa?... the Santa Religion teaches that he gives you gifts when you’re good, that he has the power to watch you always, that he will fulfill your every
Christmas present desire… all of these attributes go against everything I’m teaching about God’s goodness. And then, there will be a day I say, “Oh, I was just telling you a story about Santa… but God is really real, and He is watching you always… TRUST me this time!”

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the Elf on the Shelf… gosh, those marketing geniuses got bonuses that year for their creepy invention. Even a quick Wikipedia search will give you the background on why the world gets so Santa-crazy… it’s commercialism! Santa promotes over- indulgence and consumerism. No wonder retailers put Santas up everywhere and I don’t see any pictures of Jesus decorating the store shelves.

How about this one: WWJD? Yea, what would Jesus do? Luke 18:16 reads, "But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Would Jesus turn to those kids and lie to them about Santa? Would He promote good works for gifts… would He promote selfishness?... Nope… I’m sure on this one: Jesus would NOT be lying to the little children about Santa. He would be telling them that He is the way, the truth and the life and only through Him can they come to the Father.
(John 14:6)

So back to the moment of truth with Caroline asking me for an answer on Santa's "real-ness": I gulped and replied, No sweetie, he’s not real,”. She said with a smile on her face,
“OK, that’s what I thought.”

That was the end of Santa being “alive” in our house. I am confident God was pleased with that Truth!

So, how do we celebrate Christmas?... with LOTS of CHRIST! We do an
Advent bible study each night preparing our hearts for the story of Christ’s birth . We have an Advent Calendar and Wreath that we do with the girls. We teach the children that Christmas is about celebrating Christ’s birth and sacrificing to help others, like he sacrificed to save the world (John 3:16). We spend the month finding ways to serve others to show Christ’s love for them… either local charity ministries or abroad. Christmas morning we wake up, read Luke Chapter 2 about Christ’s birth, sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and sing some Christmas carols. Then we open 3 gifts each that symbolize the 3 different gifts the Wise men brought to Jesus.

Are we doing it perfectly?… no way! We re-evaluate our hearts, motives, spending, gift purchases, etc. each year to see what we can improve on to honor and glorify God. As the imperfect people we are, we find something each year that we could do differently to match up with God’s Word. Our goal is to celebrate Christ's birth in the most God-honoring way possible.

Christmas is a wonderful season of truth and life. And we celebrate Christ and Christ alone. We promote loving sacrifice for others, and we thank God for sending His Son for the purpose of teaching us more about Him and for sacrificing His life for ours! What a glorious time!

Santa is just a character to my girls… he has no power, only God has power. He is the same as Frosty the Snowman and Jack Frost… just a story, a myth, a legend.
God is TRUTH… Christmas is about that TRUTH ALONE!

Here are some wise words from John Piper on the subject of Santa Clause being a diversion to Christ:
How we See Christmas Symbols

John MacArthur Jr. has something to say about Santa Clause being Evil during this sermon: Santa Clause is Coming to Town

R.C. Sproul’s Ligonier Ministries has a wonderful article about are we really worshiping Santa or Jesus in: Santa-Christ

I pray this post encourages you to focus on Christ this Christmas… to remove Worldly myths… simply celebrating Jesus’ birth. What would Jesus do?...

John 4:24: "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Have a truly blessed Christmas!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent Study and Christmas Tree Choppin'

Advent... what a beautiful time to prepare our hearts for the Christmas Celebration of Christ's birth! Christmas-time feels different, smells different, looks different than any other time of the year. As Christians, we need to focus on celebrating Christmas differently than the world. We need to be set apart... for Christ.

Mrs. Miiko Gibson has a wonderful free Advent Study on her blog. We went through it day-by-day last year and just loved it.

I pray that studying God's Word in preparation for Christmas not only deepens our understanding of how His Birth has redeemed those who have trusted in Him for salvation, but also brings us to celebrate Christmas in a Christ-focused way, rather than conforming to the World's-way of over-spending, over-indulgence, holiday "stress", etc.... "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

The day after Thanksgiving, we drove out to Wintergreen Farms in Van Alystyne. They have a HUGE tree farm that you can stroll through, pick out and chop down your own tree. We just love it!

Caroline, Mommy and Ava getting chuferred by the tractor ride out to the tree farm.

After searching, and searching... we find the "perfect" tree!

Of course, we have to pose cutely in front of it before we chop it down.

Ironman is choppin' it down. He was going to use his bare hands, but he didn't want to blow his cover. I complained that I couldn't see his cute face...

There it is!!!!! LOL! :)

TIMMMMMBERRRRRRRR! (My camera takes great action shots, doesn't it?!)

Nothin' like a man's work of choppin' down and haulin' off your own Christmas Tree! Fun times!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So Thankful...

I have so very much to be thankful for...

My husband who is such a Godly leader, my precious children who give me such joy to teach, my wonderful friends and family that give me such wonderful memories, and my God who has given me blessings beyond measure in my eternal salvation and security through Jesus Christ.

Isn't Nicole Nordeman's song Gratitude just perfect for Thanksgiving?! I just love her

In lieu of the upcoming holiday, last night we made our Pumpkin puree from organically-grown pumpkins. It was so fun... messy, but fun! You can look at The Pioneer Woman's blog for more details and pictures of how to make your own pumpkin puree. She also has lots of Thanksgiving Recipes that look scrumptious!

Here are the soon-to-be carriages, I mean, soon-to-be pumpkin purees. (Our Fairy Godmother was busy, so we had to make a plan B)

Singing "The Farmer in the Dell"... "we chopped off their tops with a carving knife"

Caroline and Ava scooped out all the yummy (or should I say yucky) insides. We saved the pumpkin seeds so we can roast them later to eat. Yummy recipe here!

Ava showing off her hollowed out pumpkin. (she really wishes it had been a carriage)

Caroline showing off hers, too. (she's not thinking about carriages... only the pumpkin pie)

We then cut the pumpkin into quarters. Ironman (aka Daddy) had to use his brawn to get the job done. (Isn't he cute?!)

We roasted the pumpkin quarters in the oven on 350 for 45 minutes...

Then peeled and cut off the skin...

And chopped it up in the food processor to make the yummy puree. (Of course, Ava had to eat some of it immediately)

We measured out the puree in cupfuls, and bagged them up. (Notice Ava's dish-washing gloves she's donning).

Next, we will make homemade pumpkin pie with our purees... oh, and I have to go make the crust. I guess it would defeat our purpose of making all the ingredients from scratch and then pour it into a pre-made crust. We're going to try Mrs. Klause's recipe for the crust. Whew!... more baking fun upahead. (how did the Pilgrims do it all?!)

I found out that Mrs. Fuentes has a precious recipe for the cookies pictured below. This will be the girls' fun project while I finish brining and preparing the turkey.

This morning, the girls and I awoke to finish our Thanksgiving day preparations... we pulled out our recipes, started making a plan of action, and then I said:


"We are trying to prepare for Thanksgiving without preparing our hearts first!"

So, Caroline grabbed some pillows and we curled up by the blazing fire place and read 1 Thess. 5:16-18: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

We discussed how we can be joyful, prayerful and thankful... always. Ava, who is our voice of reason, kept telling us that we can't do it always. But... we CAN!! We are AmeriCAN, not AmeriCAN'T!! (rip off of Beverly Hills Chihuahua... lol!)

So, we made a list of everything we are thankful for. I won't publish the whole list here, but I'll recap a few of them:

Some of Ava's thankful list: Mommy, Daddy, Caroline, ability to read the Bible, Jesus, home, dogs, friends and family.

Some of Caroline's thankful list: Mommy, Daddy, Ava, Jesus, pets, a mommy and daddy that teach her the bible (Awwww!), a mommy that homeschools her (double Awwwww!), food, safety, home, friends and family.

And we ended our devotion by praying to God thanking Him for all He has given us, as well as asking Him to help us when we complain or are ungrateful about things we want and don't have. We asked for help to replace those thoughts with a thankfulness for everything we do have!

What an Awesome, Loving and Giving Father we have... may we choose joy, prayer-fullness, and a heart of thanksgiving... in ALL circumstances... ALWAYS!

Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We are just sheep


n. pl. sheep
-Any of various usually horned ruminant mammals of the genus Ovis in the family Bovidae, especially the domesticated species O. aries, raised in many breeds for wool, edible flesh, or skin.

1. Leather made from the skin of one of these animals.
2. A person regarded as timid, weak, or submissive.
3. One who is easily swayed or led.

Something funny happened the other night when Erich and I were at the movie theater watching Fireproof (Awesome movie by the way. If you haven’t seen it, run to the theater RIGHT NOW and go see it… no, really, stop reading this post and GO!)

After the movie was over, I started clapping (yep, I was being cheesy). But, I kept clapping even though I was the only one doing it in the whole theater (I was determined to get the whole crowd following my lead). After a good 5 seconds or so of my "clapping solo", sure enough, the other “clappers” came trickling in. One by one they came until almost the entire theater followed suit and we had a chorus of clapping.

Erich looked over at me, rolled his eyes, shook his head and with a sigh, he said, “Just a bunch of sheep… following the crowd,” And he was so right!

In this case, it was harmless clapping that they followed (or since it was me, should I say awesome clapping?!… lol). But, how often do we follow the flock when it’s not so harmless?

~How often do we allow our children to participate in activities just because everyone else is?

Especially when it’s not beneficial to the family’s purpose in discipling the children, giving the gospel to the community, and glorifying God?

~What about the trends and fashion of the season?

I’ll never forget the first time I saw a pair of UGG boots. I literally went “Ugh… those are weird looking!” Now that I’ve seen them worn by so many people for a while, I think they’re cute and I want a pair… gosh, I’m such a sheep! :)

So, what about the clothes that aren't honoring to our husband, role-modeling respectfulness to our children, or representing Christ? Do we wear them to follow the crowd? (or even try to draw attention from the crowd?)

~How about the things we purchase and get into debt due to the commercials we see?… the body image we think we need to have by looking at the "super models"… or even... the way we think our life is supposed to be because, well, don’t the advertising slogans tell me that I should “just do it” and “it’s all about me”? Note to self: they must be right… they wouldn’t be leading me astray, right?... WRONG!

The list goes on and on... you can fill in the blank with whatever we choose to imitate and follow.

Whether it’s our actions or our thoughts that follow the crowd… in the end, we’re just a whole bunch of sheep following the flock. No doubt, as sheep, we’ll follow somebody, so we better choose to follow the only Good Shepherd and His ways.

We need to set our minds on things of Him: "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Col. 3:2

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

You see, God’s calling of us as “His sheep" and "His flock” describe perfectly our character flaws as weak, helpless beings in need of a Shepherd. We will follow the flock, even if it leads us to the wolves’ den. We get anxious when we are away from the flock, and even more important, without a shepherd, we will go astray and be in imminent danger.

Left to our own sheepish desires… well, here’s what the Bible says: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Prov. 14:12

We need to have a total dependence on our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15

My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." John 10:27-28

~So, Mr./Ms. Sheep: Who is the Shepherd that you are following…?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled... Cucumbers?

I did it... or should I say, we did it!!! The Klause family came over and we pickled cucumbers! Good Times! :)

We used the organically grown dill from our garden and yummy "pickling" cucumbers from Costco. (along with a few other ingredients, of course)

Yee-haw!... I'm ready to move out to the country and milk some cows now! If I can make homemade pickles... and I mean GOOD-TASTIN' homemade pickles... anyone can!

The girls had so much fun cutting the cucumbers and preparing the ingredients! And the end result was ABSOLUTELY delicious pickles (11 jars of them to be exact).

Here's the recipe we used from Mrs. Klause's blog:
Homemade Pickles Recipe

Have a blessed "dill-filled" day! :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fall is here! (at least it should be despite the warm weather)

Can you just hear the "Little House on the Prairie" theme song as you look at us?

We went to the Pumpkin Patch to get our pumpkins (which ended up being rotten, but never mind that). I'm thinking Ava was hoping that pumpkin would turn into her royal coach and whisk her away to the ball.

Mommy and her two precious girls!

Daddy, Caroline & Ava on the Hay Ride. (We had a "lurker" in the picture, but thanks to "photo shop", his face is removed. You can still see his legs poking out... he must have turned into the "Headless Horseman")

My sweet hubby and me. :)

FYI: Erich was originally cast to be the star of "Ironman" before they picked Robert Downey, Jr. You can see why in this picture. lol!

Again, amazing brute strength displayed... those pumpkins must have weighed 250 lbs. each!!!

We went on a field trip to the Dallas Arboretum. It was pretty weather at first, but we ended up getting rained out. Here, the girls pose in a cottage window.

It's Pumpkin Land!!!

The girls in the Pumpkin House

Caroline and Ava amongst the pumpkins

Gotta love that missing tooth! :)-

Sitting pretty...

Here are all the cousins! It's so nice to be a part of a large family.

Ready for school (and proof that we don't school in our pajamas... lol)

OK... this is our dog Fly... he is a boy... what a shame that he allows Caroline & Ava to dress him up otherwise. :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

John Piper and Election Day

*In order to not have Nicole Nordeman singing over John Piper, you'll need to pause my "Playlist" music box (scroll down the page and it's on the right side) before you click play on the YouTube video. Unless you can multi-task and listen to both... :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy 11th Birthday Caroline!

I can't believe it's been 11 years since God brought you into this world and blessed our family! Whew... time flies when you're having fun, right?! Here are some fun memories of your birthday celebration:

Ann-Marie, Abbey and You at the movie theater ready to see "Beverly Hills Chihuahua"! (Obviously, we have an onlooker who wanted to be in the picture, too. )

Flashing your "11 sign".

All the girls crowding around the cake and hoping to eat it soon. You all are so cute!

You and Ann-Marie pose for the camera. Shopping money is awesome!

You and Abbey smile for the camera, too. Love that purse!

Surprise, surprise... now you can be speed racer, too! :)
(That look on your face is priceless)

You all had fun swimming in the spa. You also had a blast jumping into the pool despite the cold temperature... daring and brave souls you are. :)

"AHHHHHHH!!! The flash is hurting my eyes!"

"Much better now... night, night!"

You had so much fun with your dear friends that night. We also had a family birthday dinner at Chili's, but I haven't gotten the pictures from Emily, yet. (hint, hint!)

Caroline, you are such a bright and fun-loving young lady. Your enthusiasm for life is truly a joy to be around! God has gifted you in so many areas... you are so artistic and have the sharpest memory out of anyone I know (besides Poppi, of course). May God continue to use you to bless others and may He grow you strong spiritually to be used to further His Kingdom!

I love you so much, Caroline... it is an honor and a joy to be your mother! I am so blessed by you!